Intimacy and sharing – Feeling Alone

My husband and I have not regularly shared a bed for 8 years. He only comes upstairs when he wants sex, and that is barely once a month. It started when I was first pregnant, and all my prop pillows took up too much room. Then when I decided co-sleeping was best for breastfeeding and postpartum depression, husband did not want to bother us or be woken up by baby. Then more babies came, and never did it occur to me that I should ask for him to help at night. He had to work in the morning and I didn’t, why should I ask him to stay up late? And after he worked all day, I could not ask him to help then, because he was tired from work. And he never offered.

Now he had surgery over a year ago, and even though we have no babies in our bed, he still sleeps downstairs, says the bed hurts him.

I learned he needed space after coming home from work, I could not bombard him with questions at the door.

I had no car those early years, we could not afford one. I had a double stroller for the bigger kids, and I would strap the infant in a baby carrier on my tummy. That is  how I went to the park or to get groceries.

(via He's happy to bury his head in the sand and not deal with me

I learned not to bother husband. But now I know this is wrong, this is not a marriage, at least not one I want. But I don’t know how to connect with him any more. He just doesn’t understand, and I feel deep down he doesn’t want to understand. He is content to live in a world where his wife does not struggle.

For the longest time, I was just surviving each day, alone with the kids, never caring if I was happy, or what I wanted. I was focused on being a mom and that took all my energy. A series of events had woken me from that half-life I was living, and I am longing for more.

I have tried to explain to husband that I don’t feel close to him. I have tried to voice my needs for connection and intimacy. I have explained that I need more hugs, snuggling, or hell, just look at me while I talk.

So last night we start watching a movie together, him in his chair, me on the couch. I get the kids in bed and think we can have a nice evening together. I get us both some drinks and snacks. I ask if he wants to come to the couch, I’ll rub his feet? Maybe in a bit he says. We are watching a comedy, and it is getting annoying to me, I have seen it before and I’m bored. So when he turns over and appears to fall asleep, I go back to my computer. After about 20 minutes, he asks what I am doing? Blogging I say.

(via Head in hands, slumped over - defeated

I head back to the couch, and assume the frustrated/depressed posture in my body that I feel in my heart. I have so much to say, but don’t know how. I am deeply saddened by his lack of concern.

He finishes watching the movie, then looks over at me and says, Aww, looks like you need a hug. That is exactly what I need. I just look at him hopefully. He puts his arms in the air and gives me an air hug from across the room, like blowing a kiss. I make some sort of WTF was that face, and he gets up off his arse and comes to couch. Where I do get a hug. And my ear nibbled. And a hand up my shirt. I want his closeness so much I don’t object at first. Until he tries going further, I have to say I am not up to this, I feel quite icky.

He asks why I feel icky, while he kisses my neck and his hands are everywhere. My head is spinning, I want him to stop, and I want to talk to him, but the kisses feel good too. This is the first cahance we have had to talk without kids for weeks. The first we have been close to intimate too. And I want it, but not like this. I hold his hands in mine, and say something about how he is never home, we never get to talk, and I feel alone and icky. Worse now because it is winter. I am struggling with depression.

He sighs. A big sigh. And says something like, well spring is only a month or 2 away. You’ll feel better then I guess. And then he goes upstairs to bed. He asks if I am coming up to bed. I debate it, but I go, still craving his attention. But in bed he turns his back to me, and I am left so alone again. Even when he is next to me.

I had my wake-up calls, and want a better life, a better me. How do I wake up husband so he can join me?

12 thoughts on “Intimacy and sharing – Feeling Alone

  1. your questions are all good questions, and it really and truly does sound like you should be talking to someone outside your home, (counselor, therapist, priest, friend, even a suicide or depression hotline can help). Sometimes just speaking to SOMEONE about what is troubling you can help you articulate and identify your most pressing need.

    For instance, if connecting to your husband is your most pressing need, (or perhaps it could be the act of being validated for being worthy of his affection without the sex component being attached) … once you have identified what you believe to be your most pressing need, you then have the option of creating steps to help you achieve that goal, (such as exchanging a small gesture of kindness once a week, or agreeing to pick one night a week where snuggling and laughter are requirements, or doing something once a week outside your regular routine, such as going to sit in a coffee shop together and do some people watching … all of these are examples of action).

    When my husband and I were going through a similar version of being disconnected, our therapist suggested starting out small, and agreeing to a once a week commitment to something. We chose “doing something out of the ordinary” and then I came up with about twenty things that I wrote down on a slip of paper, and once a week we would draw out one piece of paper and we would do that thing.

    The first thing that had to happen was that we had to both agree we would do this together, once a week, for three months. Three months didn’t sound like too long, and when he realized all it would require of him was that he show up and follow along, it didn’t feel too complicated. Guys can’t figure out “make me feel special” or “show me affection” or “do something kind” because that’s just too confusing and not specific enough, so it is much easier for him to “get in the car and go wherever the piece of paper says we are supposed to go for one hour”. He was reluctant at first, but when he realized it was only one hour, once a week, for three months, that didn’t seem too overwhelming.

    I actually had fun coming up with the thirty things to choose from. I had to be creative because we were broke, so I tried to think of things that we could do that would cost less than $20 each time. I can’t remember now what they were, (this was almost twenty years ago), but I know some of them were like these:
    * go sit in a coffee shop, drink hot cocoa, and watch people together
    * go to a movie theater and just sit in the lobby and eat popcorn
    * go to the library together and each pick out a book for the other person
    * go to the plant store and pick out a small plant and pot it together at home
    * find a free car show and go walk around looking at the cars together
    * go to a park with a loaf of bread and sit and feed the ducks together
    * go to the tool store together and explore the new cool tools (he liked tools)
    * go to a pawn shop and buy something for less than $20 (movie, tool, dish)
    * spend one hour sitting together at a laundromat, just watching people

    You get the idea. It wasn’t so much WHAT we did together, it was just that we agreed to do SOMETHING together at least once a week for one hour for the next three months. There were only two rules: (1) we both agreed to show up at least once a week for one hour for the next three months, and (2) during that one hour, we were not allowed to say even one unkind word to each other. No complaining, no admonishing, no nagging, and no calling names. For ONE HOUR we had to be friendly and nice with each other.

    Now, it sounds easy enough, right? Obviously the hardest part was just getting him to agree to it in the first place. But again, it WAS only ONE HOUR, and only ONCE A WEEK. I mean, come on. How hard is that?

    The funny thing is, at first it was all awkward and weird and felt unnatural. But we had agreed, so we would pick out a slip of paper, and off we would go. Sometimes we would have to make an adjustment if we couldn’t get a babysitter and had to take the kids along, or if the weather was bad we would have to substitute one thing for another … you get the idea. But once we got rolling along, it was funny how that one hour became kind of fun for us, and then he started making suggestions of what we could put on the slips of paper. Or if we did one thing he particularly liked, he would ask if we could put that piece of paper back in the bucket and maybe do it again.

    And those one hours of being nice to each other also started stretching out to other days in the week. It is harder to ignore someone if you know you have to do something together as a team once a week. It wasn’t long before we would be laughing or talking about “what do you think we’re going to have to do this week” or “I hope we get to do something with cars again” or “wasn’t it funny when we saw that couple at the theater in those silly orange shirts” and again, it wasn’t so much about WHAT we did, but that it gave us something to talk about that we shared in common. That was the best part of it, I think.

    We later added a third rule, now that I remember. We were not allowed to talk about money or sex during that one hour. Surprisingly, by the way, our snuggling time increased, just because we started feeling like friends again.

    I didn’t mean to ramble on and on, but your post made me think of those days when I was struggling with my husband, feeling like we were on two different islands, even though we lived in the same house. Who would have thought pulling little pieces of paper out of a bucket could help?

    One more thing … from the very beginning, I kept a cheapo little spiral notebook about this experiment. I would put down what was on the little piece of paper, and then make some notes about what worked, or what didn’t. Even though in the beginning we committed to doing this once a week for one hour for three months, by the end of that three months we were both enjoying it, and we went another three months. And then another. For about two years.

    Good luck in your own journey. I hope maybe this will help you think about what you can try in your own situation. Anything that helps you connect with him again, and that takes all the pressure off of him to really do anything other than show up is probably a good place to start. I had to completely let go of the resentment and anger attached to “me always being the one that did most of the work” and finally figured out that if I was willing to help us get started, then eventually it would help us both and we would both benefit. It helped me connect to my husband again, and that was all I wanted in the first place, right?

    • Those are some great suggestions ntexas. I am so touched that you would write so much for me. Not sure what else to say, thoughts are swirling about. The thing is, we function pretty well as friends. He is my best friend. I love talking to him, spending time with him. It is just when we try to get close, talk about the kids, or our future, that things go wonky. There is no passion. It isn’t about getting it back – it was never there. I married my best friend. I didn’t know how to feel love back then. I think I do now. I’m the one who has changed, and I’m afraid I’m asking for depth from him that just isn’t there. He’s confused, he doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong, and feels rejected. (I think – he won’t actually talk to me about any of this) And only recently I have discovered he does not me showing strong emotions, even when not directed at him. He is uncomfortable with intense feelings, and I really am intense. So I try to tone it down for him, but then feel like I can’t be me. He’s always shushing me, even if I raise my voice because I am excited or joyous, I am not allowed to express anything without making him uncomfortable. So I can’t go back to being dull and lifeless. I have healed those hurting parts of me that made me that way. I’m ready to be me, loud at times, passionate, intense. He is happy for me, and encourages me to spread my wings and find joy – but he does not want to do it with me. And I’m not sure I want him to either. I don’t think I married the right man. Not that he’s a bad man, but I don’t think we’re a good match, and the differences are getting bigger, not smaller.

      • keep in mind that when you are talking to me, you are talking to someone that was married for eighteen years (perhaps to the wrong man) and who ultimately ended up getting a divorce, so I’m certainly no expert on the subject.

        ultimately our marriage ended when, among other contributing factors, I finally realized that expecting him to be someone he was not, or to expect him to want to change, was my mistake. I had taken serious and significant steps towards growing, and he was content where we had been … the more I grew, the farther apart we became. He was not wrong, and I was not right, we were just two people in two different places. Thankfully, we really liked each other, and enjoyed each others company, so that made it somewhat easier, but in the end, I finally had to accept that it was more painful to always FEEL alone than to actually BE alone.

        Which isn’t to say that after the divorce everything was easier. It was not. Being a single parent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to work through, but since ultimately I had been the deciding vote (more or less) in the divorce, I felt compelled to parent enough for the both of us. Not an easy task. Not to mention the financial implications, etc. But it did allow me to continue on my journey of personal growth, so in that way, it worked in my favor.

        Tough decisions, and much to consider. I wish you the very best.

  2. I just stumbled into your blog from someplace. You write so well. I want to give you a hug! I have no advice, I’m a relative newlywed myself (almost 2 yrs), but I just wanted to let you know that you absolutely deserve to feel loved and connected to your husband.

    I almost married my closest male friend. It took a lot of courage for me (I was terrified to be alone) to walk away from that relationship when I finally faced up to the fact that there was no passion. I stayed with him for 3 years in a passionless relationship because I loved him and didn’t want to be alone. Walking away was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I don’t regret it for a second, but it was such a big step to take.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment, for the kind words, and for sharing your story. We’ve been together 18 years, since I was 17. We have a house, kids, dog, cats, fish, cars – a whole life together. I am not ready to walk away. I am trying to figure out why I keep feeling so alone, and I think I’m on the right track.

  3. Oh my. We have much in common, my new found blog friend. I currently have a complicated life with my somewhat distant husband as we struggle to raise our little guy as a team. Mine is a great dad, which helps immensely, but I too often struggle with that lonely feeling.

    You are asking yourself the right things, I think. I’m probably the last who should advise you, as I’m in a very similar situation, but I do feel for you. ~Grainne

    • (I meant “great dad” as in gives baths, cooks dinners, does bedtime and breakfast…that stuff. Not trying to imply your hubby isn’t good to your little ones)

    • Glad we found each other then. Don’t need advice so much as sharing this crazy life with others that are willing. Writing helps me sort out my thoughts and clear my mind so my body can take action. Not always the right action, but that is ok. I’m learning. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Is Physical Attraction needed in Marriage | Roots to Blossom

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